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Message to the Congress Transmitting the 1999 National Drug Control Strategy

February 08, 1999

To the Congress of the United States:

On behalf of the American people, I am pleased to transmit the 1999 National Drug Control Strategy to the Congress. This Strategy renews and advances our efforts to counter the threat of drugs—a threat that continues to cost our Nation over 14,000 lives and billions of dollars each year.

There is some encouraging progress in the struggle against drugs. The 1998 Monitoring the Future study found that youth drug use has leveled off and in many instances is on the decline—the second straight year of progress after years of steady increases. The study also found a significant strengthening of youth attitudes toward drugs: young people increasingly perceive drug use as a risky and unacceptable behavior. The rate of drug-related murders continue to decline, down from 1,302 in 1992 to 786 in 1997. Overseas, we have witnessed a decline in cocaine production by 325 metric tons in Bolivia and Peru over the last 4 years. Coca cultivation in Peru plunged 56 percent since 1995.

Nevertheless, drugs still exact a tremendous toll on this Nation. In a 10-year period, 100,000 Americans will die from drug use. The social costs of drug use continue to climb, reaching $110 billion in 1995, a 64 percent increase since 1990. Much of the economic burden of drug abuse falls on those who do not abuse drugs— American families and their communities. Although we have made progress, much remains to be done.

The 1999 National Drug Control Strategy provides a comprehensive balanced approach to move us closer to a drug-free America. This Strategy presents a long-term plan to change American attitudes and behavior with regard to illegal drugs. Among the efforts this Strategy focuses on are:

• Educating children: studies demonstrate that when our children understand the dangers of drugs, their rates of drug use drop. Through the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program and other efforts, we will continue to focus on helping our youth reject drugs.

• Decreasing the addicted population: the addicted make up roughly a quarter of all drug users, but consume two-thirds of all drugs in America. Our strategy for reducing the number of addicts focuses on closing the "treatment gap."

• Breaking the cycle of drugs and crime: numerous studies confirm that the vast majority of prisoners commit their crimes to buy drugs or while under the influence of drugs. To help break this link between crime and drugs, we must promote the Zero Tolerance Drug Supervision initiative to better keep offenders drug- and crimefree. We can do this by helping States and localities to implement tough new systems to drug test, treat, and punish prisoners, parolees, and probationers.

• Securing our borders: the vast majority of drugs consumed in the United States enter this Nation through the Southwest border, Florida, the Gulf States, and other border areas and air and sea ports of entry. The flow of drugs into this Nation violates our sovereignty and brings crime and suffering to our streets and communities. We remain committed to, and will expand, efforts to safeguard our borders from drugs.

• Reducing the supply of drugs: we must reduce the availability of drugs and the ease with which they can be obtained. Our efforts to reduce the supply of drugs must target both domestic and overseas production of these deadly substances.

Our ability to attain these objectives is dependent upon the collective will of the American people and the strength of our leadership. The progress we have made to date is a credit to Americans of all walks of life—State and local leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, police officers, and clergy. Many have taken a stand against drugs. These gains also result from the leadership and hard work of many, including Attorney General Reno, Secretary of Health and Human Services Shalala, Secretary of Education Riley, Treasury Secretary Rubin, and Drug Policy Director McCaffrey. I also thank the Congress for their past and future support. If we are to make further progress, we must maintain a bipartisan commitment to the goals of the Strategy.

As we enter the new millennium, we are reminded of our common obligation to build and leave for coming generations a stronger Nation. Our National Drug Control Strategy will help create a safer, healthier future for all Americans.


The White House, February 8, 1999.

William J. Clinton, Message to the Congress Transmitting the 1999 National Drug Control Strategy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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